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Barack Hussein Obama; decent, sensitive, friendly
|Cengiz Çandar - English
|All the attention for days has been directed to U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama’s speech in Parliament as much as it has been on his trip to Turkey. What would be his "message"? Would he really give a "message"? Would it be a historic speech?|
|To the first question, Obama clearly answered "yes" in Turkish during his Parliament address. "This is my first trip overseas as president of the United States. Some people have asked me if I chose to continue my travels to Ankara and Istanbul to send a message to the world. And my answer is simple: evet Ğ yes," he said.
Yes, indeed. An American president having extraordinary popularity around the world like Obama’s choosing Turkey as his first trip overseas is a message all alone. Besides, this message is so important that even before he stepped in Turkey, Obama said in the European Union Summit held in the capital of Czech Republic, Prague, on April 5 that the United States wants to see Turkey as an EU member and this is an important sign of developing relations between the West and the Islamic world.
Despite French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s objections, Obama repeated his remarks at Turkish Parliament and to the more; he made a strong emphasis on them. After saying that the United States gives strong support to Turkey’s accession to the EU, Obama said, "Turkey is bound to Europe by more than the bridges over the Bosporus, but also through its history, culture, rule of law and democracy."
Mr. President added that Europe brings different nations, ethnic groups and beliefs together and that Turkey’s entry to the EU would reinforce the European stance. He signaled to anti-Turkey groups, in a way, that he, as the leader of the West, would insist on Turkey’s accession to the EU. Given the spirit of all his speeches and remarks as well as the words he chooses, this was both a "political" and a "philosophical" approach, because Obama’s number one priority is a rearrangement of relations between the West, especially the United States, and the Muslim world based not on force, but on a peaceful manner. At this point, Turkey’s special place in Obama’s strategic perspective comes out.
In the eye of the new U.S. administration, Turkey is a "Western" country. But in terms of demographic structure it is a Muslim country. And as far as the geographical situation is concerned, Turkey is a country where the "East meets the West."
The meaning is this: If there would be close-up between the West and the Muslim world as Obama describes, Turkey, at this point, would take a special role. But in order for Turkey to act its role as it is supposed to be, it should be tied with the West. Unless uniting Turkey’s membership in NATO, with the EU membership, it would not be possible for Turkey to become a "positive role model" for the Islamic world as the Obama’s United States imagines. Therefore the United States will continue to really support Turkey’s full membership to the EU. Perhaps this is the most important side of Obama’s Turkey trip.
But Turkey has its own responsibilities for such support. It should continue to walk in the direction of reforms, democracy and the rule of law. Obama in his speech at Parliament said on the subject: "You abolished state security courts É You've lifted bans on teaching and broadcasting Kurdish, and the world noted with respect the important signal sent through a new state Kurdish television station. É For democracies cannot be static Ğ they must move forward." Obama also added, "É steps like reopening Halki Seminary will send such an important signal inside Turkey and beyond." He said that the United States has confidence in Turkey on the issue of minorities and freedom of faith. So, he happened to signal what kind of progress they expect of Turkey.
The most striking part of his speech was exactly on the subject. "I say this as the president of a country that not very long ago made it hard for somebody who looks like me to vote, much less be president of the United States," he said. Obama stressed that he has never forgotten and will never forget his African-American heritage and its meaning in terms of democracies and progress. For this reason, his remarks on the 1915 incidents, or the Armenian issue, saying, "É reckoning with the past can help us seize a better future. I know there's strong views in this chamber about the terrible events of 1915," were also critical. Obama, however, stressed that the place to discuss similar issues is Turkish Parliament and that discussing the issue among Turkish and Armenian officials is more important than his own views on the subject.
Obama’s speech was very good. It was an address to all. Therefore it was also built masterfully. But the most striking side of it was that his decency and brilliance was harmonized with the text quite beautifully. Especially as he talked about Muslims’ contributions to the United States, Obama counted himself in as part of the Muslim community living in the United States and claimed his Muslim middle name, Hussein. And it was a sincere sign of his positive approach to the Islamic world.
We’ll digest his speech in Turkish Parliament and discuss for days his various statements. We’ll read the excerpts repeatedly.
His remarks during a joint press conference together with Turkish President Abdullah Gül had important clues about how to shape up Turkey’s future: a model partnershipÉ
Yes, we learned a new concept on Tuesday: "model partnership."
Obama talked about a "model partnership" between the United States and Turkey as he emphasized the importance of Turkey not only for the United States but also for the world.
Until today, over 20 years, the "strategic partnership" concept, which it was music to the ear, yet was not entertained deservedly in order to define Turkey-U.S. relations, perhaps for the first time is finding its true meaning with Obama. This will be a model or an exemplary partnership. In the presence of the U.S., Turkey will be perceived as one of the most important countries in the world and will be treated accordingly. So the United States and Turkey are building kind of a "company" together for cooperation and solidarity to resolve world issues.
We are at the beginning of a new period for all. If you ask me to describe Obama in three words as the president of the United States giving a start to this new term, I would say, "He is decent, sensitive and friendly."